|Now called Burnside Bridge, this is the iconic Antietam Creek bridge near Sharpsburg|
A bridge southeast of the battlefield was the only practical escape route to the South for General Lee's army in September 1862. The Union, under Burnside, had held the bridge late into the day of brutal fighting that still stands as the deadliest single day of war in American history. However, small missteps, unfavorable geography, and bad luck--arrival of Confederate troops which made a 17-mile, day-long march from Harper's Ferry--caused him to lose the bridge back.
Lee was able to leave Sharpsburg and return to Southern soil. Many have predicted the war could have ended right there but for one bridge.
I wondered out loud what would have happened had the Union held the bridge and then be able to defeat Lee, essentially bringing a 2.5 year earlier end to the War.
Would Lincoln have still issued his partial Emancipation Proclamation? Would McClellan, not Grant, have become the hero of the War? Imagine the World had American Cousin not been playing at Ford's Theater when the war ended two and half years earlier.